By Vishak Raman, Vice President -Sales, India, SAARC and Southeast Asia, Fortinet
SD-WAN has been a regular topic of conversation for IT and security professionals for over five years. Even before the pandemic and subsequent widespread shift to remote work, many organizations were beginning to deploy this technology. Many organizations still view SD-WAN through the lens of its first- or second-generation iterations. Initial SD-WAN solutions focused on transforming the network. Second generation SD-WAN solutions provided “always-on” security over direct internet access.
But with third-generation SD-WAN, partners have a stronger opportunity than ever before to offer customers a strategic solution that enhances security, simplifies operations, and enhances network performance, especially when providing it as a tightly-integrated platform. In addition, now SD-WAN can enable a foundational platform for SASE, Zero Trust Edge, and SD-Branch solutions.
Reduced Network Complexity Reduces Burdens on IT Staff
SD-WAN is an alternative to WAN infrastructure that is cost-effective but historically SD-WAN solutions provided little to no security as part of their solution unless added as an overlay. Therefore, organizations have had to apply security as an afterthought adding complexity and cost. For SD-WAN to be truly effective, it must converge networking and security.
Secure SD-WAN actually reduces network complexity with a security-driven networking strategy. This technology reduces network complexity and burdens on IT staff by converging networking and security across the connected environment.
With network security increasingly important across distributed workforces, partners can distinguish themselves by transforming WAN edges with secure SD-WAN that responds to multi-cloud and hybrid environment needs by combining:
- Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW) capabilities
- Zero-Trust Network Access (ZTNA)
- Secure Web Gateway
Secure SD-WAN devices offer centralized management and visibility through a single-pane-of-glass view. Converging networking and security reduces the strains that IT teams face by giving them a way to manage two problems in one solution. When these offerings are scalable across any enterprise size, IT teams can keep pace with the organization’s growth objectives without compromising security.
Simplifying Operations Enhances Efficiency
Customers need to enhance their security without negatively impacting their IT operations. SD-WAN also solves this problem by reducing the time IT staff spend on infrastructure deployment and changes.
When partners provide an SD-WAN with zero-touch deployment, they streamline the setup process, reducing operational impact. The unconfigured SD-WAN appliance automatically connects to a service authenticating the remote devices and a centralized management system. IT teams then gain an immediate, unified view of traffic, enabling faster issue resolution. With guided workflows, automated overlay, and simplified business policies, IT staff can respond to issues rapidly. The SD-WAN’s predictive analytics help with troubleshooting by enabling them to solve issues within minutes or seconds. Ultimately, SD-WAN is a multipurpose solution to a complex problem.
Low Latency Drives Workforce Productivity
Cloud-based applications and tools, like voice and video, are critical to distributed workforce models. Organizations need security without compromising application performance and user productivity. With SD-WAN, workforce members gain the network speed necessary to maintain productivity and reduce frustration.
Applications are everywhere, not just in the data center. This gives workforce members the freedom to work from an office, airport, or home. However, they need a consistent, secure user experience. An intelligent SD-WAN offers this by steering remote workers using bandwidth-intensive applications to the best performing WAN link for optimal performance. When combined with instant multi-cloud access, it enables a low latency connection through public internet links to ensure security.
This gives partners another opportunity to distinguish themselves in the market. When they provide an SD-WAN enabling a reliable user experience on any transport with self-healing capabilities, they increase workforce member productivity and satisfaction. Ultimately, this drives revenue. Coupled with enhanced security and operational efficiency, secure SD-WAN provides a solution for the multi-pronged business problems modern organizations face.
A Platform Approach Responds to Evolving Security and Business Needs
Many customers viewing SD-WAN through a first- or second-generation lens believe it is a point solution that increases network, security, operational, and productivity-related complexity. Third-generation SD-WAN, however, takes a tightly-integrated, automated platform approach, eliminating the complexity and tool proliferation that threat actors continue to exploit.
Secure SD-WAN incorporated as part of a cybersecurity mesh is a broad platform, fully integrated and automated across the technology and cybersecurity stacks. A security-driven network eliminates the disconnect caused by multiple point products, providing the single-pane-of-glass unified management required in today’s connected workplaces. Further, a broad platform approach like this allows partners to secure all remote work edges, including IoT and 5G networks. With secure SD-WAN tightly integrated and automated, customers can achieve zero-trust access across on-premises, hybrid, and multi-cloud environments. In a multi-cloud deployment situation, SD-WAN can help provide reliable access to cloud-based resources with granular controls, including dynamic failover, SLA-based application steering, and application availability.
When partners can offer an SD-WAN that enables secure work from home models, they also have an opportunity to establish a customer relationship and IT foundation that makes transitioning to SASE easier. An SD-WAN platform with consistent security no matter where users work, on or off network, creates an opportunity for long-term business strategies as customers evolve their security posture.
Partners offering a cybersecurity mesh or fabric-based approach with SD-WAN give their customers the technology needed to thwart threat actors. Without the blind spots created by multiple point products, clients can securely scale their business operations and advance their cloud strategies without compromising security.
SD-WAN a solution for immediate problems and future needs
SD-WAN is no longer a simple router replacement. Today, it is a strategic solution that offers end-to-end security, operations, and productivity for employees working from anywhere. SD-WAN provides a zero-trust network access enforcement that enables organizations to ensure only authorized users can only access applications that are allowed to, especially when integrated into multi-cloud infrastructures. Even more important, as companies build out their LTE and 5G networks, SD-WAN enhances these areas providing more resilient performance.
Partners providing a platform experience that incorporates SD-WAN give customers a solution to solving immediate problems and anticipating future needs. In doing so, they bring in new revenue while building crucial long-term customer relationships for continued success.